Navigating through Tokyo’s kaleidoscopic landscape is like stepping into a world where tradition and innovation coexist in balance – this is a city that is always able to surprise, that is never less than exciting.
The thrumming energy of Shibuya Crossing, the world’s busiest intersection, exists just a stone’s throw away from the tranquil beauty of the Meiji Shrine and lush Yoyogi Park. You can immerse yourself in a world of mind-bending digital art at teamLab Planets or lose yourself amidst the historic charm of Senso-ji Temple. From the avant-garde fashion hub of Isetan to the vintage treasures awaiting you at the Oedo Antique Market, the city encapsulates an unparalleled spectrum of experiences.
Actually getting down to deciding what to do in this city of endless possibilities can feel like an overwhelming task! So, a good itinerary is essential whether you are in Tokyo for a fleeting visit or a month-long sojourn.
However, remember also to embrace the joy of unplanned explorations, for getting blissfully lost is as much a part of the Tokyo experience as its must-visit landmarks.
Let’s dive into our list of the top 10 things you must do in Tokyo. And while you are with us, please explore our selection of Tokyo Tours led by bilingual, expert guides.
A quintessential image from the heart of Tokyo, Shibuya’s iconic scramble crossing is where you’ll witness the energetic pulse of Tokyo in all its raw intensity. As the traffic lights change, a human wave of pedestrians floods the intersection, creating a mesmerizing dance of order amidst chaos.
This is the Tokyo of cinema – a torrent of vibrant lights, enormous video screens, and a relentless sea of humanity. To capture the perfect overhead shot of this dynamic tableau, visit during the day and perch yourself atop a nearby rooftop. For an even more electrifying experience, brave the Friday or Saturday night crowd when the energy of Shibuya reaches a fever pitch!
We visit Shibuya Crossing on our Shinjuku, Shibuya, and More Tour.
Tokyo might not boast the sheer number of temples as Kyoto, but what it lacks in quantity, it makes up for in the rich cultural experience of places like Senso-Ji. As Tokyo’s oldest and most revered Buddhist temple, Senso-Ji offers an unparalleled atmosphere.
The temple complex, located at the end of a bustling shopping street, features a recently renovated five-story pagoda (the second tallest in Japan). A large cauldron, perpetually emitting the fragrant smoke of incense, draws visitors who believe in its power to bring good health.
Despite its popularity and the crowds it draws, the charm of Senso-Ji remains untarnished. To enjoy a more serene experience, aim to arrive early in the morning. Yet, regardless of the timing, anyone with even a remote interest in Japanese culture will find this spiritual site a deeply rewarding visit.
Nestled amidst the lush greenery of Yoyogi Park, the Meiji Shrine is a tranquil oasis in the heart of busy Tokyo. Dedicated to the spirits of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken, this hallowed sanctuary is more than just a tourist attraction. It stands as a testament to the city’s reverence for its past and its undying connection to nature.
From the moment you set foot on its grounds, Meiji Shrine wraps you in an aura of serenity and calm, a stark contrast to the energetic city just beyond its torii gates. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, this sacred site invites you to immerse yourself in its tranquil atmosphere and attain a deeper peace.
Yoyogi Park is one of Tokyo’s most vibrant green spaces, spanning a generous 134 acres in Shibuya, just a stone’s throw from Harajuku. An epitome of urban charm, the park bustles with locals and tourists engaging in various activities.
The northern side of the park is especially picturesque, featuring clean walkways and expansive, grassy lawns shaded by towering Japanese Zelkova trees. A large pond serves as a focal point, where park-goers picnic and enjoy time with friends and family.
Whether it’s a lively badminton match, the rhythmic beats of a drum circle, or a group of amateur dancers moving to an infectious tune, Yoyogi Park is a vibrant display of Tokyo culture.
The Rikugi-en garden in Bunkyo Ward is a rare gem that provides a glimpse into Tokyo’s historic past. The construction of the gardens took place between 1695 and 1702 and is a of a daimyo garden from the Edo period.
Designed by the lord of the Kawagoe estate, Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu, around the 17th century, the garden’s mossy footpaths, spiritual masonry inspired by waka poetry, reflective ponds, and cobblestone bridges transport visitors back through the centuries, and provide a verdant oasis amidst Tokyo’s urban hustle
Depending on the season, the garden may feature a breathtaking display of autumn foliage or the resplendent bloom of a weeping cherry tree in spring. A visit to Rikugi-en offers a serene journey back in time.
Known for its artistic flair and community-driven atmosphere, Nakameguro is a must-visit neighborhood for anyone seeking a unique Tokyo experience. Although the area is famous for its breathtaking cherry blossoms in spring, Nakameguro’s allure extends beyond this seasonal spectacle.
There’s an inimitable spirit that permeates Nakameguro’s air – a blend of creativity, community, and charm that becomes tangible as soon as you set foot in this neighborhood. It’s not just the thriving local businesses that contribute to its vibrant character. The neighborhood itself, with its artistic ambiance and sense of community, is what makes Nakameguro an unforgettable destination in Tokyo.
One of Tokyo’s most unique attractions, teamLab Planets, invites visitors to immerse themselves in an enchanting world of digital art. Created by the art collective teamLab, this exhibit is an immersive wonderland of seven large-scale installations designed to engage multiple senses simultaneously.
These “body-immersive” displays range from a knee-deep wading pool teeming with digital carp that transform into flowers upon touch, a mesmerizing mirrored room filled with infinite crystal lights, to a surreal garden of oversized floating flowers and mossy hills topped with glowing ovoids.
Dark, maze-like corridors connect these exhibitions, adding a sense of anticipation and mystery to the experience. You might get lost while navigating through this labyrinth of digital marvels, but that’s just part of the captivating fun at teamLab Planets.
Born from humble beginnings as a kimono shop in 1886, Isetan has since grown to become Tokyo’s most iconic and beloved department store, symbolizing over a century of retail history. Its flagship store in Shinjuku, a sprawling nine-floor shopper’s paradise, offers a truly remarkable shopping experience.
Isetan prides itself on its meticulous curation of items on each floor, reflecting the diversity and richness of Tokyo’s retail scene. From the latest designer fashion trends to exquisite jewelry and accessories and from gourmet foods to global delicacies, Isetan offers something special for every visitor. Anyone seeking to immerse themselves in the best of Tokyo’s shopping experience will find Isetan a must-visit destination. Isetan Men’s is a big deal for the fashionable male set in Tokyo.
Oedo Antique Market
Located conveniently near Tokyo Station, the Oedo Antique Market offers a spectacular bi-monthly outdoor shopping event that showcases an array of antique and vintage treasures. Hundreds of independent vendors showcase their unique collections, making this market a rarity in Tokyo, a city otherwise scant in antique or vintage homeware shops.
If you’re looking for unique, age-old, and interesting Japanese items for your home, the Oedo Antique Market is your ultimate destination. With an array of one-of-a-kind items, the market offers an unparalleled selection that you’d be hard-pressed to find in any regular shop in Tokyo. To get the best picks, arrive earlier in the day. The Oedo Antique Market is more than a shopping venue, it’s a voyage into the past and a celebration of timeless style.
Nihon Minka-en Japan Open-air Folk House Museum
A mere 20-minute train ride from the heart of Tokyo transports you back in time at the Nihon Minka-en Japan Open-Air Folk House Museum. Located in the suburban environs of Kawasaki City, this open-air museum is a serene escape that feels like a different world altogether, separated by several centuries from Tokyo’s modern skyline.
The museum’s vast expanse is a living testament to Japan’s rich architectural history, featuring 25 immaculately preserved homes from the Edo era, each having been carefully relocated from various parts of rural Japan. The architectural styles on display range from traditional farmhouses to ornate samurai residences, along with other notable structures like a shrine, water mill, and a kabuki stage.
The Nihon Minka-en provides a unique and immersive opportunity to experience and appreciate Japan’s historical rural lifestyle away from the buzz of metropolitan life.
Explore Tokyo with Pinpoint Traveler
From the pulsating, neon-lit energy of Shibuya Crossing to the tranquility of the Meiji Shrine and Rikugi-en Garden, Tokyo offers experiences that are diverse, rich, and invariably enchanting.
Whether you’re wandering through the charming neighborhood of Nakameguro, exploring the shopping paradise of Isetan, or discovering antique treasures at the Oedo Antique Market, the city’s multifaceted character will leave you eager to explore further.
If you have time to explore Japan beyond Tokyo, please consider joining us on one of our Tours in Japan’s Vibrant Cities.
If you have any questions, please get in touch.